"Free trial, but put in your card" Don't founders get it?

Daniel Obiokeke
10 replies
Hi everyone, As much as I know that giving free access to a product you heavily invested in is not fair, from my personal experience, I have always frowned at free trials requiring cards (hey, you said it was free). Users become makers. I think that's a bridge I have not fully crossed in order to understand why makers still add requests for cards for users to access a demo or trial period. I also wonder (yes makers, I'm trying to read your mind, yeah, stay like that, good) if this is actually successful or it actually scares users off. Has anyone done an A/B testing where they rolled out a product out with A as a cardless demo/trial and B as a card-requiring demo/trial in order to compare the results? I know there is a justifiable reason for asking people to punch in their cards. But is the reality worth it?


Luka Vasic
Growth Marketing Manager @ LeadDelta
I think it's not worth it and it just scares people away. There are platforms that can auto-subscribe you after the trial and many people are scared of that. It should never be mandatory for people to put in their cards. If they like the product/platform they will pay for it after the trial. It always looks shady and untrustworthy.
Matthew Busel
Building @ Whalesync
As a user, I totally feel you. It's a pain to whip out a credit card just to check out a product. More than that, I hate having to keep track of products I've signed up for but want to cancel in the future. As a founder, let me try to make a case for it. When you're just getting started, you're trying to figure everything out at once. Most importantly, you need to decide what to build. The best way to do that is to attract users that resonate deeply with the problem you're solving and then get their honest feedback. In the early days, asking for a credit card ensures the users signing up feel the problem deeply enough to deal with that pain. Not to mention, it just takes time to build a proper freemium-type offering into a product. At our company, we absolutely want to move over to a true freemium offering in the future, so anyone can get started easily. It's absolutely more user-friendly and like you said if the product is great people will stick around. Just wanted to share some thoughts as to why a startup might not begin that way.
Arun Pariyar
Tech & People | Launching setops.co πŸš€
Hi @mbusel , you made a good case here ! for a big company it makes sense even now I guess but as you said startups can do things differently and work really solving the problem first if they manage that money is bound to come πŸ‘
Daniel Engels
front-end, marketing & tech
Hate putting my credit card details for a "free" product, or for a 30-days trial. I don't wont the software editor benefit from me frogetting to cancel the subscription. I'd prefer him stopping the service without notice rather than charging after the free trial ends. So my response is to put fake credit card details (there are web services that generate such). Come on, if your product is good you don't need to steal my money.
Arun Pariyar
Tech & People | Launching setops.co πŸš€
Its understandable why companies ask for and perhaps now the norm will change as business understand that there are many digital service that people now choose to use so may be credit card details is too much a commitment on the customers side perhaps work on really bring them value first and then approach for the money when the time is right even better let customers decide themselves.you chose a really good topic for discussion by the way. Look forward to reading more thoughts to come πŸ‘
Anna Mandziuk πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦
How much will my app cost eBook is live!
I recently read Katelyn Bourgoin's newsletter that called instances like these "sludge" - creating intentional friction in an experience can occasionally help users but much more often annoys the heck out of them and kills brand trust. Promising free access or trial, and then requiring a card, or getting charged when you forgot to cancel, because you barely used the product, looking for the cancel button which is nowhere to be found. Katelyn says: "Sludge, while often good for a company’s bottom line, is usually bad for customers." She recommends removing sludge from customers' experience as it often slows things down and decreases brand trust.
Ezzat Suhaime
In space
@anna_mandziuk Never heard of the sludge term. Very fitting
Axel Lavergne
Indie maker, blogger
I think one of the main reasons to consider which I haven't seen here is fraud detection and management. It's a lot harder to fake a credit card than it is to fake an email or a phone number. Some products are more sensitive than others and sort of need to make sure they're allowing real identifiable people to play with the product. Email marketing for example. I'm not saying it's a must-have, I'm saying sometimes the cost-benefit trade might be worth it, especially for solo-founders who have better things to do than handle spammer wannabes. Another use-case not to forget is freemium abuse. Tons of products allow X credits for free and will let you rotate email addresses as much as you'd like. Obviously there's no point in fighting that kind of usage since you'll almost certainly never convert these people into paid users, but a signup might trigger things operationally that you'd rather it didn't. Whatsapp messages, SMS, ... things like that can end up pretty costly if your signup page is being abused by some guy trying to save $20... Overall I agree that it always sort of throws me off when they're asking for a credit card on a free trial, but generally you'll see a "You can reach out within 7 days if we end up charging you and you didn't want to" or some sort of reassurance along those lines. That does it for me personally. I should add I started a crunchbase free trial the other day and they charge the full yearly amount no questions asked after 7 days so I'm gonna go cancel right f**ing now πŸ˜‡ πŸ˜‚
Paul VanZandt
Founder of Fresco
We made sure that the onboarding process is as easy as possible on Fresco - simply create a free account and it's free forever. I think, unfortunately, many SaaS models unofficially rely on people forgetting to cancel their subscription, and inputting card details at the jump increases this liklihood.
Matthew Johnson
Co-founder/Taskable, a smart to do list
We found that by not asking for the credit card up front, users were much less likely to get activated in the trial period. There was no countdown in their mind to build a new habit and so often they'd sign up and never come back. Once they put the credit card in, there's more skin in the game so they are more likely to start using the product and to convert.